Sacred Crimson is the second EP from emerging Black Country stoner metallers King Corpse, following their successful self-titled debut and tours supporting the likes of Conan and Monolord.  It’s worth noting that anyone buying a physical copy will get more value for money than someone that streams it online (although not literally of course, but you know what I mean).  The online EP features five tracks, but anyone old enough to still be interested in CDs (cough!) receives an additional three re-mastered versions of previously released singles.  As I have the CD in my grubby mitts I will indulge in a bonus extended length review.

The suitably titled ‘Exhumation’ kicks things off; featuring huge grooves that could entice the dead from their graves for a post mortality mosh.  Musically it’s very much in the Crowbar mould, with Jack Cradock’s crooned vocals calling to mind a stoner version of Serj Tankian, if such a thing can be imagined.  The tempo fluctuates between laid back stoner sludge at the beginning and more dynamic and energetic towards the end.  ‘Drowning’ features a lackadaisical guitar intro which is a bit indie rock, feeling at odds with the rest of the track, luckily it doesn’t hang around too long, being replaced by heavy doomy guitars.  At times it’s conventional, grinding along at a snail’s pace, but occasionally it surprises by incorporating other genres, such as straight up rock and a startling jazzy bass.  Unfortunately it’s during this track that it becomes apparent that the sound on this recording isn’t quite up to scratch.  Admittedly most of the guitars are shrouded in a Sabbath-like 70’s fuzzy haze, which is to be expected, but it’s all very lo-fi and suffers because of the murky tinny sound.

The centrepiece of Sacred Crimson is the epic ‘Climb My Bones’ which throws everything and the kitchen sink into its ten minute running time.  It begins with an acoustic guitar which nods at a folky Led Zep before another Crowbar-esque crunchy riff enters.  This track, along with much that is good on the EP, revolves around the guitars.  There are plenty of riffs to get lost in, that will bang many a head, along with a bluesy jam and a huge, balls out guitar solo.  It’s ambitious and shows that King Corpse are intent on pushing themselves and pushing boundaries.  The additional remastered singles are most welcome, but it’s noticeable how good they sound, a significant step up in quality from the recording of the new tracks. ‘The Count’ is a cracker, with its heavy fuzzy riffs and surprising tempo shift halfway through making for a monstrous boom.  ‘Swamp Thing’ has thick mucky grooves that ooze from the speakers with Jack’s vocals reminiscent of Neil Fallon and musically there’s more than a passing resemblance to Clutch.

Only their second EP and King Corpse are already spreading their wings and moving a smidgen away from their roots in a more progressive direction; there’s still plenty of sludge on display, but more experimentation.  Sadly the difference in quality between the production of the new tracks and the re-masters is striking; if the new tracks were to the same standard then Sacred Crimson could’ve been a different proposition, but instead feels like a slight missed opportunity.  The new tracks are so raw it feels like some of the impact and punch is lost, which is a shame, but equally they do show promise, particularly the guitars and the myriad of memorable riffs.  There’s plenty of life in this corpse; some fine tuning is required, but if King Corpse keep churning out the riffs and don’t drift too far from their origins, they could be fighting for a place on the stoner sludge throne in years to come.

(6/10 James Jackson)